Clay Carson: Living in the Movement

From left: Cotton, Carson, Young and Clarence Jones, scholar-in-residence at the King Institute

It’s been a heady week for CLAYBORNE CARSON, founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute. Last weekend Carson was in Raleigh, N.C, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, where such civil rights heavyweights as CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS and HARRY BELAFONTE gathered (and in the latter’s case sang publicly for the first time in years).
 After landing at SFO Sunday afternoon, Carson headed straight to a luncheon hosted by the Peninsula Bay Chapter of Links, Incorporated, where the organization of professional women of color honored Carson for his work in preserving King’s legacy. 
One would think some well-deserved rest would be in order, but Carson was going home to greet both his wife, Susan, and DOROTHY COTTON, another civil rights stalwart. Cotton, who worked directly with King as the education director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is well known for leading freedom songs. Cotton is working on her memoir with the help of Susan Carson, former managing editor at the King Institute. On Tuesday, Cotton also shared her experiences and insights with students in Carson’s class The Modern African American Freedom Struggle.
Then on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Carson spent time with Andrew Young, movement colleague and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. During a visit to the institute’s offices, Young, on campus for a meeting of the United Nations Foundation board, told the staff that the work they are doing is “laying a foundation for generations unborn.” 
While inside the institute with Young, Carson got a parking ticket, which Young graciously autographed. “The visit was worth much more!” he wrote.